Living with Lupus, & Killing It!

Yes, we love Selena Gomez. Yes, Alex from Wizards of Waverly Place was our spirit animal growing up. We’re all totally obsessed with her and Justin Bieber getting back together (maybe), but Selena’s recently been in the media for reasons aside from her breakfast dates with good old Biebs. In Selena’s recent interview with TODAY, she finally spoke up about her battle with lupus. Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects approximately 1.5 million people in the United States a year. Nine out of every 10 people affected by lupus are women, and I am one of them.

When I was 15 years old, I suffered a career-ending volleyball injury during summer conditioning. After coming down from a block that resulted in a stress fracture, physical therapy became my new normal. Closer to the end of my therapy, what was supposed to be routine blood work turned out to be, “Surprise! There is actually something very wrong.” Fast forward five years through what seemed to be a lifetime at a children's hospital, I have accumulated numerous additional medical issues from a blood disorder to a skin condition and a now-cured liver disease (yes, cured!).

Photo courtesy of Erkan Utu

Last year, however, I began to experience severe arthritis. I just assumed that I was working too hard, texting too much and simply just straining my body to its literal breaking point. After seeking care from my rheumatologist, it was discovered that I had lupus. 

Fortunately for me, while I suffer from the most common (and more serious) type of lupus, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), I don't need a kidney transplant or anything quite as serious. Life with lupus, in my specific case, is manageable. I have medication that I will likely be on for the rest of my life, but it isn’t any more inconvenient than waking up and taking a multivitamin. I meet with my rheumatologist and get routine blood tests every three months.

To those who see me every day, I am “normal”. I have two realities, and some days that means I have a difficult time getting out of bed. I often feel like my body is working against me and I frequently feel like I need a seven-hour nap every three hours. My body aches after sitting too long and sometimes I need to wear compression socks to relieve some of the pressure in my legs.

On other days, I manage to wake up at 6:30 a.m., clean my entire room top to bottom and make it to my overload of meetings. I can go to work for five hours and make my #HerCampusCarthage weekly meeting right after. I can throw a floor program and get a good lift in on the same day. I can maintain my busy schedule and that is one of the most common misconceptions of living with this disease. People almost expect you to not be able to function when that is not necessarily the reality in every case. Something I do like to stress is that just because you can’t see my lupus on the outside doesn't mean it’s not there. In fact, every day I’m living with lupus—and I’m killing it!

Rep image courtesy of Pexels